BART dispute fuels political platforms

Mayor Jean Quan (right) listens as the announcement to end the BART strike is made Monday night. Photo by Jenny Chaussee.

Mayor Jean Quan (right) listens as the announcement to end the BART strike is made Monday night. Photo by Jennifer Chaussee.

As negotiations dragged on in last week’s BART debacle, a raft of politicians stepped in hoping to build up their political capital around a new issue: transportation issues in the Bay Area.

Though Mayor Jean Quan was in China for some of the negotiation process, meeting with current and potential investors for the Brooklyn Basin project, her spokesperson, Sean Maher, described her as heavily involved, checking in on the negotiations “at least daily and sometimes multiple times daily.”

Maher added that Quan coordinated with Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner and Rob Bonta “to keep the pressure on both sides, advocating for the riders themselves, who have to be our first priority.”

Oakland is the only Bay Area city through which all five BART lines run.

In Orinda, councilmember Steve Glazer quickly took on the cause by lobbying in support of proposed Senate Bill 423, which, if passed, would make BART transit strikes illegal.

Since September, Glazer has circulated a petition via his personal website and also made personal visits to each BART station to gather signatures in support of the bill. He said he gained more than 1,000 signatures on Tuesday alone after the strike ended.

“People are appreciative that they have an outlet for their strong feelings in keeping the strike from happening again,” Glazer said.

Glazer is now aiming for the support of elected officials. He has a list of eight mayors who have said they stand with him—including ones in Pleasanton, Oakley and Brentwood—though Mayor Jean Quan is not among them.

“There hasn’t been any elected officials who have had the courage to speak up,” Glazer said, referring to state senators and representatives.

The endless back-and-forth negotiations ended Monday night in the wake of a growing drop in public support.

Under the new agreement, BART unions landed 15.4 percent in raises over a four-year period—which was 3.4 percent higher than the “last, best, final” offer that was put on the table almost a week prior to the agreement.

There is also potential for a $1,000 bonus if ridership increases past projections, and BART workers will commit part of their income to state pension funds for the first time. The rate will begin at one percent, and add an additional percent for each year of the contract, ending at four percent the final year. Finally, their insurance premiums are rising from $92 per month to $129 per month.

In an interview with NBC 11, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said BART’s original offer to the unions was “very generous.”

“You know, I was mayor of San Francisco for nine years and nine years a county supervisor, and I saw in those days, the 70s and partially in the 80s, a large number of public employee strikes,” Feinstein said. “They don’t work. They leave deep scar tissue.”

7 Comments

  1. Paul B

    Feinstein is simply wrong about public employee strikes. In the case of BART, the workers won a higher wage because of their strike. It worked for them, and it’s better for ALL workers that public sector employees are compensated fairly and have money to spend in the local economy.

    Obviously, Sen Feinstein thinks those workers didn’t deserve a wage that would keep pace with the rising cost of living in the Bay Area. And she does not deserve to be re-elected or to be supported by the unions who have always backed her. Now we know where she stands, as an enemy of union workers and all workers, including BART riders.

  2. Former BART Rider

    Paul, with respect, BART workers were given higher wages because local politicos involved themselves:

    Local politicians shilled for the unions, pushing the district to give more with little or no regard for the cost.

    State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward
    Assembly members Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley
    Rob Bonta, D-Alameda
    Bill Quirk, D-Hayward
    Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, and her deputy, former Assemblyman Sandré Swanson.
    Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
    Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

    But, don’t take my word for it, go to: http://maplight.org/california/legislator/1692-rob-bonta and see where their campaign donations come from.
    Personally, looking forward to seeing each of them with a “former” in their title.

    • mharris127

      BART board members should have stood firm, replacing the workers if need be. I bet there are enough people willing to be trained to run the subway and work for $50K with Obamacare benefits. The BART employees got greedy and thanks to ultra-liberal politicians taxes and fares are going up to pay for the new costs when they didn’t have to. $20 one-way fares to San Jose, anyone?

      • Jon

        Just like there are plenty of people willing to work for Walmart’s minimum wage and then have their lives subsidized by food stamps and other public services?

  3. I am continually shocked that we seem to have forgotten that we the people are labor and that unions are the reason we won so many of the work place rights we have today. Those rights are continually being attacked and chipped away, but for some reason we (labor) are angry at the unions who are trying to protect those same workers rights. When did the bay get so conservative? When did we start believing this right-wing lie.

    • Jon

      Unfortunately, in systems of oppression, the oppressors set the oppressed against each other, perpetuating the power balance to stay the same.

      In this case, the corporations and big entities have got the middle/working-class fighting from within so that underpaid, overworked private-sector folks who have minimal job security and benefits get angry at unions and decently-paid workers because its already “better” than what they have, so they (union workers) must be greedy for wanting more.

      In the private sector, corporations cut worker benefits and pull shenanigans (low wages, making most workers part time, minimal pensions and retirement benefits) in the name of “increasing shareholder value”… which basically equates to the rich / upper-class who are vested in stocks and company equity getting richer at the expense of the workers / middle-class. BART, even though it has projected surpluses in the coming years, tried to pull a similar excuse by saying it needed funds for expansion so therefore the workers were asking too much.

  4. harvey

    I would like to complement the Bart Unions for their constraint after their great victory over the rabble of the Bay Area.
    Barbarians will often loot and pillage a couple of towns after defeating their enemies.

Comments are closed.